Jamaican Brandon Allwood was among eight international undergraduates recognized with Toronto Excellence Awards at the second annual Toronto International Students Festival last Saturday at David Pecaut Square.
The third-year scholar, who is pursuing communications studies at York University, was the only international student from the Caribbean to be honoured. With nearly 59,000 international students in the province, Toronto is the largest centre of foreign students in Canada.
“I don’t necessarily believe in the validation that awards give you,” said Allwood. “If you are working for an award, then you are really not working. However, as a Jamaican and an immigrant in a first-world space, I am very much honoured to be the recipient of an award from the City of Toronto. This a very humbling experience for me.”
Allwood is part of a sizable cadre of Caribbean students pursuing post-secondary education in this city.
“Toronto has made me realize how much of a global citizen I am and the enormous amount of opportunities that are available,” he said. “I am enjoying this city and my time at York in the communications program…We don’t study the practicality of media. Instead, we study it as an institution, so we look at sociological and cultural aspects of media and media production.”
The deputy head boy in his final year in 2007 at Kingston College, Allwood pulled out of the University of the West Indies Mona campus political science program to pursue studies overseas. He aspires to become a lawyer, specializing in international development and human rights.
Allwood started his communications career as a Jamaica Observer TEENage Magazine writer in 2005. He also produced and presented a radio program on HOT 102FM and a television program for the National Family Planning Board that was aired on Television Jamaica.
A recipient of the Prime Minister’s National Award for Excellence in Journalism, Allwood was also a Jamaica Observer entertainment reporter and co-founder of the company’s evening newspaper, Chat.
In 2009, Allwood established his own public relations and communications firm that, among other things, develops and executes public relations plans and provides media coaching and crisis management for clients.
A United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) ambassador, Allwood is heavily engaged in child rights and youth advocacy issues. In 2007, he represented Jamaica at a United Nations conference in Switzerland.